Reviews in 200 Words

"The King is Dead" by The Decemberists

In Album on January 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm


This is an album that pays off on Obama’s promise: a record saturated with change. Opening with “a turning of the seasons” it never looks back. The songs are simple and bear little resemblance to anything but the band’s earliest work. It’s restrained and patient – and perfect in those pursuits. There are tender moments and rollicking rock throwdowns and nearly nothing demanding your attention.

That’s for the better. With all due respect to Mr. West, after all the bravado and fist shaking and ostentation of 2010 it’s nice to start this year off with something more measured. It doesn’t hurt that Gillian Welch is along for the ride – every band should employ her as a salve. Because, really let’s be honest – that’s what this album is: a remedy for the tumult. Weren’t things supposed to be getting better? How do we get there? Lyrics like “We must bear our neighbor’s burden within reason,” seem to point the way.

There’s nothing wrong with a little uplift. After being so bogged down in the hazards of love – chasing lovebirds and exacting revenge in the dark bellies of whales – it’s nice to hear a pleasant tune soundtracking our minor, upward adjustments.

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